Monday, 21 November 2011

Cassandra Syndrome

Most people are more edmucated than me, but few use Google so well. Google 'Cassandra' with 'Greek Myth' or 'Syndrome added in and you'll find that Cassandra was an oracle that offended the gods by predicting the future more accurately than a mortal should. As punishment she was cursed so that no one would ever believe her predictions. She didn't see that one coming, or did, possibly explaining why she milked her gift as much as she could before it became impossible.

So Cassandra Syndrome is what cranks, social inadequates, pub bores and speculating pundits with their annoying faces cite when their 'genius' and perceptiveness is not appreciated, when people just don't listen and I must truthfully include myself as being one of these misanthropic jerks. Which makes it worse when I'm pretty sure I am right about something and no one is listening except people who kind of creep me out. Reading back through some of my earlier posts on The Files I feel kind of embarrassed at how sloppy some of it is considering I intended for this to be a factual blog with literary flair, halfway between FullFact and Nadine Dorris' '70% fictional' blog. My two Comment is Free articles on the Guardian have been criticised as 'ranting' and this is correct, if you think ranting is the problem. For me the problem was that they weren't ranting enough, I should have been more concise so then I could fit more ranting in.

But really these feelings are best described as telling what you believe to be a superb joke and nobody laughs, or they laugh politely but insincerely. Then that moisturised, gel-haired smart casual guy who is Mr Popular tells the same joke with a few bits changed and the room is in hysterics and you have to wait until he's alone in the WC to wash that stupid gel out of his stupid hair in the unflushed toilet bowl.

That's the feeling I get when the Guardian reports that Channel 4 has investigated the huge number of ESA claimants who are pending appeals, or are being recycled in the system again and again, perpetually kept in the Assessment Phase(and going by what should be new claimants and excluding them, the size of the Assessment Phase group is still higher than the official number for pending appeals). The Guardian didn't want to know when I was the one making a fuss about this, but now their Oxbridge friends at Channel 4 have looked at it, they're all friggin ears. The Guardian has also just won the 2011 AMI People's Choice Award for reasons note quite clear to me but this is supposedly voted on by members of the public. I was never made aware of how I could cast a vote and I don't think many people were.

Some context is added by looking at the winners of other awards: BP gets the Film and Video Award for promoting 2012 Olympic sponsorship, Coronation Street wins the Drama Award for an almost never-seen wheelchair using character and it goes on, with acclaims either going to large for-profit organisations or to individuals who although disabled, are either privileged or so commercially successful that it would be very difficult for most disabled people to relate to. No bloggers or campaigners got anything for their work despite arguably having the strongest affect on debate about disability issues in 2011. We're not an industry, so we don't count. If you are an industry, tokenism is all that is required for over-egged recognition.

The University of Strathclyde has a now well-circulated research paper on disability reporting in the press and whilst the leading Right-wing newspapers increased their(mostly negative) disability coverage, the Guardian coverage since 2006 fell slightly. All their coverage of recent disability issues to do with welfare reforms have been at the expense of their regular disability reporting, rather than being added to it. This is explained only by intentional tokenism. Is it any wonder they did not take my alarms about ESA claimants seriously?

It has been seven months, maybe slightly more because articles with graphs take me much longer to make. I had made a fuss about it regularly right up until my leaving CiF. If Channel 4's report sets a ball rolling, changes the terms of debate, puts ministers under scrutiny and ultimately leads to change, then this will have been an outcome that could have come seven months earlier. That is seven months of claimants being saved from despair, from suicides and abuse. The Guardian did not care. Not until 'people like them' needed to fill a time slot with basic information that was a Google search away.

Case File #4 finds a dark corner to go cry in.

1 comment:

  1. Not sure if you've accessed the Strathclyde report, Mason, but the PDF is available here for other readers if so:

    I think the picture of the Guardian's coverage is complex, but I agree with a lot of what you're saying here.

    I hope you're well.